“Sleep when you’re dead” – mystical, dreamlike landscapes by Adrian Gardner @ Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh
The American rock singer, Warren Zevon is often credited with coining the mantra, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” or as Bon Jovi stated, “Gonna live while I’m alive, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Adrian Gardner graduated in Fine Art at the University of Central Lancashire as well as studying at the University of Lisbon, and now lives in Edinburgh. After a difficult time during lockdown when he could only exhibit work on line, this showcase of new paintings and prints is based on a narrative theme – the importance of living life to the full:
‘I try to express what it means to be alive, connections, love, tragedy, existence .. I’m keenly aware of the magic and fragility of it all – a connection to the past and hopefully the future’. Adrian Gardner
Walking into the Whitespace gallery, a lush, languid landscape on the far wall stands out: Off Grid illustrates a couple of hikers trudging downhill towards, perhaps, a Highland loch, with rugged mountains beyond. An intriguing colour palette, switches from soft pastel pinks to shimmering green hills and dark grey clouds with an evocative sense of escape.
A snowy winter day in Wish You Were Here depicts a fun family day out with the artist sitting on a sledge as his son, Charlie stands beside him at the top of the hill. The ice-blue snow is criss-crossed with tracks while the skeletal bare trees are bathed in a rosy glow at dusk.
Observing the panoramic view of jagged, rocky mountains in Transitions, it’s reminiscent for me of a majestic cruise on the Silver Spirit while circumnavitating South America, gliding gracefully along the Glacier Valley, Patagonian Fjords.
However, Gardner explains that this is based on the dramatic Himalayan mountains in Nepal, although he has never actually travelled here: ‘I paint what I see, what I imagine, places I have been and places I haven’t.’
The Himalayas stretch across Nepal, northeast India, Tibet and Myanmar – as well as the land of the mythical Shangri-La.
James Hilton imagined Shangri-La in his bestselling novel Lost Horizon (1933). After a plane crash in the Himalayan mountains, British diplomat Hugh Conway claims to have found the utopian world of Shangri-La where the people live in perfect harmony with nature, a paradise on earth.
People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little.” James Hilton
Shangri-La is often used as an analogy for a life-long quest for something elusive. As well as the fictional Conway, only intrepid mountaineers are ever likely to visit the remote, hidden valleys of Nepal.
Transitions is a spectacular, mesmerising landscape of the mind, portraying perhaps his own elusive, lost horizon, conjuring up memories and dream-like imagination.
The mirror image of the mountain range delicately coloured in pale pink and glistening gold, is like a glimmering reflection on water, a view which is similarly described in painterly fashion in Lost Horizon :
‘The whole range paled into fresh splendour; a full moon rose, touching each peak in succession like some celestial lamplighter, the long horizon glittered against a blue sky.” James Hilton
The soft shades of oil paint in all these landscapes give a luminous effect on the textured quality of the linen. Gardner has a particular technique, priming and sanding the paint with several coats for a smooth finish.
One wall features a series of Op Art decorative designs in Bridget Riley-styled geometric stripes and circles with the addition of miniature sea and landscapes in the bullseye centre. Sleep when you’re dead’ has a whirring, whirling sense of movement while the tiny image of a winter tree and snowy field is all about rural peace and tranquillity.
Another illustration is Seascape, a miniature painting of calm waves and distant horizon as if to say, forget the flurry of life’s problems surrounding us, to focus on the beauty of nature beyond.
As a pure abstract, Bright Futures is aptly named, depicting the warmth of summer sunshine and happier times ahead.
This is an enchanting, inspirational exhibition of mystical, magical places expressing moments of silence and contemplation. Gardner is an artist and also a philosopher whose evocative, rose-tinted vision of the world may encourage us all to dream a little more and find our own personal Shangri-La.
‘It is an innate human condition to imagine and explore in our minds. The world seems small with modern technology, but is immense, giving a perspective on the now’. Adrian Gardner
Sleep when you’re dead
Adrian Gardner – a solo show of reasonably priced, original paintings, (oil on linen), large and small scale; Limited edition prints.
30 July to 3 August, 2022: open 11am- 5pm
Whitespace Gallery, 76 E. Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ
The Old Course – St. Andrews: classic and contemporary paintings by Davy Macdonald @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
Art history: ‘the study of aesthetic objects and visual expression in historical and stylistic context.’
Davy Macdonald is a most innovative artist, specialising in dramatic scenes, inspired by meticulous research into Scottish cultural heritage: Herring Lassies, Harris Tweed, Gothic Edinburgh. This exhibition showcases a diverse range of his artwork, both realism and abstract, but centre stage is a new and topical Figurative theme, The Old Course – St. Andrews.
The 1st Open Championship was played at Prestwick in 1860, with just eight players; in July 2022, the 150th Open featuring 156 players in the field, aptly took place at the world’s Home of Golf. Cameron Smith produced one of the all-time great rounds in Open Championship history to pip Rory McIlroy to glory at St. Andrews.
Davy Macdonald has researched the cultural golfing heritage of St. Andrews with meticulous and magical detail. In the first half of the 20th century, Staycation in the British Isles meant visiting the seaside on day trips or holidays and travelling by train was imaginatively promoted through colourful advertisements.
This evocative poster for the London & North Eastern Railway, dating from 1933 and designed by the Welsh artist, Arthur C. Michael features two golfers with their caddies, teeing off in front of The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse. West Sands is visible in the background.
The fabulous fashion and leisurely lifesetyle of the 1920s and 1930s are beautifully illustrated in these attractive vintage and now extremely valuable travel posters.
With his own inimitable style, Davy Macdonald has created his own stunning series of paintings depicting a line up of women golfers enjoying Tee Time around the Old Course. Against a threatening grey sky, this determined lady, dressed warmly in a red sweater and plaid skirt, eyes up her shot with a follow through of her club. Beyond are the rolling sand dunes and in the background, the church spires and castle of the old town.
Here she is again, with no caddy to carry her golf bag, standing proudly on the Swilcan Bridge with neat, period detail of her curled hair, tasseled white shoes and ankle socks. This iconic bridge, beloved by golfers worldwide, was built over 700 years ago so that shepherds could move their flock across the Swilcan Burn which meanders across what is now the 1st and 18th fairways.
While Mary Queen of Scots played on the historic links in 1567, golf here has has long been a traditional sport for gentlemen. Finally eight years ago, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (founded 1754) decided to allow women to join the Club for the first time. In another railway poster, men and women enjoy a round of golf in the sunshine.
Refreshments are essential after a round of 18 holes and The Jigger Inn (1850s) was the Stationmaster’s lodge. The Old Course Resort is built on the site of the former train station which sadly closed in 1969. This cosy pub is decorated with golfing memorabilia, open-hearth fires, hearty good food, Scottish beers and their own Jigger Ale. Here, a young girl poses elegantly with her club over her shoulder as she heads jauntily into what’s known as the 19th Hole!.
The pioneering and influential Abstract artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, (1912-2004) was born in St Andrews and attended Edinburgh College of Art in the 1930s before moving to St. Ives. Her love of the sea shore is captured in her minimalist drawings, such as West Sands (St. Andrews) and North Sea Fife.
Inspired by Barns-Graham’s linear meditations on waves, sand and wind, Macdonald also relishes the freedom of non-realistic expression to depict a sense of rhythm and energy, such as the swirl of blues and sunshine yellow in Flow #1.
‘I am fascinated by the power of nature such as skies, seas, atoms and galaxies all in constant change. My current approach is to work with both hands simultaneously with willow charcoal sticks, brushes or palette knives .. a duet, comparable to a pianist or drummer, both hands working independently yet together creating balance’. Davy Macdonald
Likewise, Flow #3, a mesmerising maze of apparent, ad hoc, quick, red and grey brushstrokes, balanced by a scatter of precise, bold black lines – horizonal and perpendicular. As the eye follows the ebb and flow of shape and space, there’s a soft jazzy rhythm lurking here in its improvised pattern.
Having viewed his previous Abstract paintings in recent years, once again, Davy has a real touch of Jackson Pollock (with a more controlled structure), as well as the fluid grid patterns of early Mondrian (e.g. Sea and Starry Sky, 1915).
The truly modern artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture.” Piet Mondrian
As well as original paintings, the decorative designs of the Flow series would create most attractive fabric, textiles and wallpaper.
A large scale, (6 – 4 foot) Abstract composition, Among the Floe, is extremely impressive in both inventive design and experimental technique. A floe is a sheet of floating ice, all the more visible due to the melting of glaciers and icebergs from the Patagonian Fjords to the Polar Regions. A flurry of brash brushstrokes splash icy streaks of thick white paint across the canvas with an effective sense of dramatic mood and movement.
The exhibition also includes work from previous Figurative series, such as At the End of the Day and Herring Lassies at the Harbour Wall – portraits of fisherwomen whose bandaged fingers are the result of shucking oysters, gutting and salting the herring.
This new collection of nostalgic, vintage scenes of the Old Course, St. Andrews juxtaposed with modern Abstract Expressionism illustrate Macdonald’s evolving, imaginative style and aesthetic vision criss-crossing the world of art history.
Visit the Dundas Street Gallery this week to view these contrasting classic and contemporary original paintings as well as Limited Edition Prints on paper and canvas.
The Old Course – St. Andrews
Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ
21 – 31 July, 2022; open 10am – 6pm, daily.
‘word is’… by Catherine Sargeant – the abstract visual art of language @ Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh
After achieving a 1st class degree in Drawing and Painting at the Edinburgh College of Art, Catherine Sargeant became the first recipient of WASPS new graduate award. Her art practice covers printmaking, drawing, photography, painting and bookmaking, she is a professional member of the Society of Scottish Artists and teaches at Leith School of Art.
“I use text in my art, not as a writer or poet but as a collaborator. So many words, so many ways to create. I collect words from various sources: individual favourite words, quotes from the great and good, dictionary definitions, the poetry of Robert Burns, the list goes on’.
In this collection of paintings and screenprints, using a diverse range of media, “word is” is inspired by the beauty of specific words and the shape of each letter of the alphabet. In family matters, just visible beneath the surface, the original text has been erased to leave a few letters highlighted to create a message about love and kinship in an artistic pattern.
This is reminiscent of the experimental literary style, Concrete Poetry, first coined in the 1950’s – Poesia concreta originated in Brazil quickly spreading to Europe: the dissection of words into separate letters constructed in a layout of grids, columns, spirals or the shape of the poem’s subject. Edwin Morgan was a unique contributor to the avant garde movement, delighting in visual wordplay with intellectual wit. ‘Message Clear’ repeats the biblical verse from John 11:25 (‘I am the resurrection and the life’) removing different letters to make new phrases.
As a literary visual artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay also specialised in the fragmented format of words within circles and geometric shapes across the page as in ‘Cork Net’ and ‘Broken Heart.’
Catherine makes clear that she is not a poet per se, but celebrates the interpretation of language in minimalist manner to communicate a subtle subtext – ‘often in collaboration with contemporary creative friends – writers, poets, musicians, – adding yet more layers to my work, both literally and metaphorically.’
A chilling message with echoes of Hitchcock’s Psycho and other murder movies is captured in hollywood moment: “A sensual, per f ect scream”.
Catherine enjoys experimenting with various fonts although much of the text resembles the typeface of a vintage typewriter, such as in red web and reddest. Like the clue for a crossword puzzle, each word can be prefixed by the colour red.
Observing how text communication today dominates modern social life, she also focusses on the abbreviated use of language; the selection of edited, altered, blackout phrases lets the viewer interpret their own meaning. orrizonte (Italian for Horizon) illustrates the definition – ‘the limit of one’s experience’ – as well as the artistic symbol of a compass and fluidity of sea waves. This is a screenprint on paper over a wooden board with resin.
An intriguing series, Sea Circles captures the changing mood and movement of the waves – from calm to stormy days: Dream, Silence, Squall, Magical, Sound. These 17 cm round abstract paintings (gloss, graphite and oil on plywood) are so delicately crafted, a soft swirl of blue and white and one single solitary word for calming, meditative thought.
What is so appealing is the simplicity, brevity and clarity of the artwork. Here are graphic patterns of letters, words and symbols – with an emphasis on the ampersand – in which the typographical image is more important in conveying an essence of emotion and mood than overall literary significance.
A magical composition is velvety night, which draws the viewer deep into the seascape where a scattering of words – stars, sound – are almost drowned by the flowing waves under a shimmering moonlit sky. Such a dramatic atmosphere of night-time darkness – a time and place of peace and solitude.
With such imagination, inventiveness and originality, Catherine Sargeant combines both linguistic and visual expression in painterly poems with such precision and creativity.
The Art of the Word.
word is ……. Catherine Sargeant
Doubtfire Gallery, 28 NW Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6TP
13 July – 13 August, 2022
Opening hours, Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon – 4pm.
Homeland @ Dundas Street Gallery: explore the Outer Hebrides and the wider world through the art of travel by Donald Libby and Eilidh Jamieson.
The Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh is a marvellous space for an eclectic range of pop up art exhibitions. This week there’s a superb collection of hand crafted, sculptured ‘seascapes’ displayed on towers of white boxes complemented by colourful, decorative maps around the walls.
Donald Libby and Eilidh Jamieson both live in Stornoway and their contrasting artwork is inspired by their homeland, the Isle of Lewis. Eilidh was initially due to be exhibiting with another artist, and so it was by chance she was introduced to Donald who agreed to collaborate on this joint showcase.
‘I find that being born and brought up on an Island shapes you as an individual and as an artist – surrounded by the sea, rugged coastlines and beautiful beaches is where I find my inspiration’.
His art materials are sourced from beachcombing walks to find salvaged driftwood, water bottles, rusty nails, fishing nets and mooring buoys, washed up by the waves on to the sand. Working in his Studio Shed, Libby has such a magical imagination to transform these found treasures into unique, hand crafted sculptures. Each specific shapely piece of timber, metal, glass and plastic is selected to create such realistic miniature cottages perched on a rocky seashore with cute wee dinghies, complete with miniature oars.
The detail is exquisite with washing lines in the garden, twig ‘trees,’ and the creative use of salvaged planks of wood, perhaps from an old boat with peeling red and blue paint, as in Sailors Warning.
These 3D seascapes capture the atmosphere of living on a Hebridean island – you can almost catch a whiff of the fresh sea breeze around harbour walls and sandy beach. In Approaching Shower, see the pounding waves crashing against the rocky cliff, with the lighthouse keeping sailors safe at sea.
Libby doesn’t identify exactly the location of each particular scene although a few scenes depicting tall, slender stacks are reminiscent of St. Kilda, such as Gannet Rock.
‘Having enjoyed travelling and living abroad made me realise what a privilege it was to be born on the stunning beauty of the Outer Hebrides. It evoked the desire to create art which would inspire nostalgia and a sense of Home’. Eilidh Jamieson:
In 2013, Eilidh was just 19 years old and working on the far side of the world, Mount Isa in the Australian desert and missed her home on the Isle of Lewis. She came across an online shop which could emboss an image of one’s own country onto the cover of a travel journal. This began her love affair with Maps.
At the gallery you can see a collection of her delicately designed paintings and prints, an enchanting world atlas of islands and countries from the Isle of Lewis to Australia, Asia to South Africa, Canada and the Caribbean.
The Outer Hebrides are named after the Norse word, Harbredey, loosely translated as “Isles at the edge of the Sea.” A map of this archipelago depicts the 130 miles of wild, rugged, undulating coastline, around cliff tops and white sand beaches. It is not just the geography and location of the islands which Eilidh is trying to capture but the cultural heritage of her homeland, renowned for Harris tweed and the ancient Standing Stones at Callanais.
These unique hand-painted watercolours, decorated with colourful inks and pinpointed specific places on the map sprinkled with flecks of copper, silver or gold for a glittering piece of artwork. The curving coastline of islands, the curving shapes of borders and boundaries evoke memories of family holidays and romantic journeys of discovery around the world.
With little opportunity to jet off over the past couple of years, we can still appreciate memories of journeys past, and these maps offer an original illustration of favourite places through Eilidh’s innovative art of travel.
We study maps to be inspired and to daydream of planning a bucket list of where to go on our next wanderlust adventure.
Through her company, EJayDesign, she accepts commissions for personalised bespoke maps with the addition of your own text and title. Printed on giclèe fine art paper or unstretched canvas using pigment inks, they are completed by hand with sparkling of acrylic gold. These would be perfect birthday, wedding and anniversary gifts for family and friends.
The planning, organisation and travel to set up this exhibition has been a huge effort, having to drive a truck, by road and ferry from Stornoway, with an extensive range of artwork to Edinburgh. Do take a visit if you can to the Dundas Street Gallery this week to see Eilidh and Donald’s artwork – prices are very reasonable for these finely crafted maps, seascape models and also useful key holders – perfect presents too.
This is a creative debut collaboration between two distinctive artists who share a dramatic imagination and evocative sense of place. I do hope this review will encourage a gallery on the Isle of Lewis to offer the two artists the space to show off their inspiring artwork in their own Homeland.
Dundas Street Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh
Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th July 2022